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A taste of Latin America

Two HTE students will visit Mexico with Associate Professor Jackson Lamb for a culinary conference and immersion experience.

March 11, 2015

Associate Professor Jackson Lamb and students Jason Rice and Thomas Mortenson gear up for the International Congress of Gastronomy and Tourism in Oaxaca, Mexico. PHOTO: Dave Neligh
Associate Professor Jackson Lamb and students Jason Rice and Thomas Mortenson gear up for the International Congress of Gastronomy and Tourism in Oaxaca, Mexico. PHOTO: Dave Neligh

The International Congress of Gastronomy and Tourism, an annual conference and culinary exchange held in Oaxaca, Mexico, attracts students and instructors from across Latin America. But until this year, the conference had never hosted visitors from the United States.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for MSU Denver students to learn about Latin American food and tradition while being fully immersed in the culinary capital of Mexico,” said Jackson Lamb, associate professor in the Hospitality, Tourism and Events Program, who will accompany two students to the conference in mid-March. “To be the only group representing the U.S. speaks to the quality of our program and its commitment to unique learning partnerships.”

MSU Denver has been collaborating with host-school, the Institute University of Oaxaca, for the past few years, sending professors to Mexico to teach ESL and nutrition. Lamb and his colleagues recently expanded that partnership by creating an official HTE professor exchange program, which also opened the door to participating in the conference.

In its seventh year, the weeklong gathering features a variety of learning sessions, including cooking demonstrations and lectures about the diverse food and cultures of Latin America. As part of the program, participants also visit notable gastronomic and historic sites in and around Oaxaca and take part in a cooking competition.

Jason Rice, a hospitality major with a concentration in restaurant management, is thrilled to be part of this global learning experience. He and fellow student, Thomas Mortenson, are taking conversational Spanish classes to make the most of their time in Mexico. Generous grants from Student Activities and the Hospitality, Tourism and Events Department funded the trip.

“Traveling to another country and experiencing the food there will be simply outstanding,” said Rice. “The congress itself will offer insight into many different cultures and cuisines from across Latin America. It will be fascinating to see how people from other countries behave in the kitchen, what their methods are for preparing food and what their culinary habits are while cooking. There will always be something new to learn.”

Rice also would like to win the cooking competition on behalf of MSU Denver, though he wouldn’t make any guarantees.

For Lamb, the conference is about sharing a little of the U.S. culinary tradition, plus growing a network of international relationships that could lead to even greater collaboration. He sees those relationships as potentially helping the University reach its goal of becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, but most essentially, as a way to create even more opportunities for student transformation.